Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Popes Against the Jews, Part 3: Positing the “Big Lie,” and getting people to believe it.

In his introduction, Kertzer opens his work by discussing the document which I presented at some length in my last post.
* * *

It was March 16, 1998—eleven years after Pope John Paul II had asked the Commission [for Religious Relations with the Jews] to determine what responsibility, if any, the Church bore for the slaughter of millions of European Jews during World War II. For the Church, a more explosive subject could hardly be imagined …

At the heart of the problem, as the Vatican commissioners recognized, was the fact that the Holocaust had taken place “in countries of long-standing Christian civilization.” Might there be some link, they asked, between the destruction of Europe’s Jews and “the attitudes down the centuries of Christians toward the Jews”?

Those who feared that the report might criticize past popes or past Church actions were soon relieved to learn that the Commission’s answer to this question was a resounding “no.” True, the report admitted, Jews had for centuries been discriminated against and used as scapegoats, and, regrettably, certain misguided interpretations of Christian teachings had on occasion nurtured such behavior. But all this regarded an older history, one largely overcome by the beginning of the 1800s.

In the Commission’s view, the nineteenth century was the key period for understanding the roots of the Holocaust and, in particular, the reasons why the Church bore no responsibility for it. It was in that turbulent century that new intellectual and political currents associated with extreme nationalism emerged. Amid the economic and social upheavals of the time, people started to accuse Jews of exercising a disproportionate influence… (David Kertzer, “The Popes Against the Jews: The Vatican’s Role in the Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism”, New York: Vintage Books, ©2002, originally published New York: Alfred A. Knopf, ©2001, pgs 3-4)
Here is a point at which typical Roman obfuscation is evident.

Kertzer brings out this point later in the book. The actual verbiage from the Vatican Commission’s document is, “But in that same historical context, notably in the 19th century, a false and exacerbated nationalism took hold. In a climate of eventful social change, Jews were often accused of exercising an influence disproportionate to their numbers. Thus there began to spread in varying degrees throughout most of Europe an anti-Judaism that was essentially more sociological and political than religious.”

What the Vatican fails to report is the very fact that it was a pope, and a work sanctioned by a pope, (approved of and distributed by the Vatican’s own theological journal – and reprinted with the explicit approval of the pope at the time) and a report by the “Holy Office of the Inquisition”, that made these charges, that led to this “sociological and political” anti-Semitism.

After describing the election of a new pope in 1823, Leo XII, Kertzer noted that shortly after his election,
he launched a stern morality campaign: He ordered the police to prevent taverns from serving alcohol, he attacked the waltz as obscene, he ordered that statues of naked women be removed from public view, and he ordered the arrest of any man found walking too closely behind a woman.…

The Jews occupied a central place in this “rechristianizing” campaign. Embracing the virtues of the past, and purging the present of all the excrescences of modern times, meant ensuring that the Jews were confined to their divinely ordained place. As cardinal vicar of Rome, Della Genga [the new Pope Leo XII] had been outraged to discover that not all of the Holy City’s Jews had returned to their ghetto following the restoration of the papal regime. One of his major projects as cardinal vicar had been to oversee a modest enlargement of the ghetto, to undermine the Jews’ complaint that it was impossible for them all to fit in the densely packed space within the old ghetto walls. Now, as pope, he redoubled these efforts. In 1823, in one of his first pontifical acts [though this is not “a teaching,” to be sure, and this act is not infallibly protected and thus “the Church” can officially dismiss it as if it were nothing], Leo XII ordered the Jews back into the ghetto, “to overcome the evil consequences of the freedom that [they] have enjoyed….

Among the beneficiaries of the new Pope’s policies was the Holy Office of the Inquisition [later, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, of which Ratzinger became the overseer for many years], which Leo XII turned to for help in his efforts. In the first year of his papacy, he had the Holy Office investigate the extent to which the old restrictions on the Jews in the Papal States were still being enforced. The goal as an internal Inquisition report expressed it, was “to contain the wickedness of the obstinate Jews so that the danger of perversion of the Catholic faithful” could be avoided. The report expressed dismay that some Jews lived outside the ghettoes, some traveled from place to place without the special permits they were required to get from the local office of the bishop or the inquisitor, and some had opened stores and businesses beyond the ghetto’s walls. The list of scandals went on: Jewish men were reported to be having relationships with Christian women; Jewish families were employing Christian servants and wetnurses; and Jews could be seen hiring coachmen and riding around in carriages, an offense to Christian sensibilities. “In a word,” the report concluded, “today Christians are found to be subject to the Jews, or at least put on equal footing with them, so that there hardly remains any distinction between them. We are not far, at this point, from seeing them admitted to Citizenship.”
Keep in mind that this “report” was the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, er, the “Holy Office of the Inquisition,” at the request of a pope.

The new Pope’s efforts to enforce these restrictions on the Jews relied on the bureaucracy of control provided by the Inquisition and by various other agencies of the Papal States. But it also had an ideological component. One of the first signs of this new ideological offensive was the publication, in 1825, of a long treatise on the Jews in Rome’s Ecclesiastical Journal, which was subsequently published as a separate booklet and went through four printings in 1825-26. Written by the procurator general of the Dominican order, Father Ferdinand Jabalot, it had been directly inspired by Della Genga when he was still cardinal vicar of Rome.

The booklet resurrected many of the traditional Catholic accusations against the Jews. Jews were guilty of deicide, and crazed with the lust for lucre and the desire to bring about the ruin of Christians. So intense was their hatred of Christianity that no evil was to great for them: “They wash their hands in Christian blood, set fire to churches, trample the consecrated host … kidnap children and drain them of their blood, violate virgins,” and on and on. [More later on the kidnapping of children and draining them of their blood.”]

The exiguous number of Jews in Italy—they constituted less than 0.2 percent of the population—did not deter Jabalot from attributing to them a huge—and pernicious—influence. [See the 1998 Vatican report to the effect that “In a climate of eventful social change, Jews were often accused of exercising an influence disproportionate to their numbers.”] In many parts of our land the Jews have become the richest property owners. In some cities money cannot be had, except through them, and so great has the number of mortgages they hold over Christians become, that it is only barely that the Christians have not yet become their vassals.” As for the Jews’ character, the portrait could scarcely be worse: Everywhere one hears of deceptions and frauds they have committed.” Many of them are “pickpockets, thieves, swindlers, assassins,” and their houses “are the general deposits for all kinds of stolen goods.” The Jews are ever busy “cheating and hoodwinking Christians ... at every opportunity ...”

Along with the traditional Catholic charges, Jabalot’s text provides some of the germs of what would become the major focus of later-nineteenth-century Catholic characterizations of the Jews. Wherever they live, wrote the Dominican, the Jews “form a state within a state.” Unless Christians act quickly, the Jews “will finally succeed in reducing the Christians to be their slaves. Woe to us if we close our eyes! The Jews’ domination will be hard, inflexible, tyrannical….The year was 1825. The Jews had not yet been given equal rights in any part of Itly, nor in most of the rest of Europe.

The pope was pleased with Jabalot’s work, and not long after its publication appointed him head of the Dominican order worldwide.

The Holy Office’s request in 1823 that the bishops and inquisitors report on the situation of the Jews in their jurisdiction unleashed an outpouring of complaints against the Jews
(63-65).
Of course, we know about Popes and bishops working together on things. From the Catechism:
2032 The Church, the "pillar and bulwark of the truth," "has received this solemn command of Christ from the apostles to announce the saving truth." "To the Church belongs the right always and everywhere to announce moral principles, including those pertaining to the social order, and to make judgments on any human affairs to the extent that they are required by the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls."

2033 The Magisterium of the Pastors of the Church in moral matters is ordinarily exercised in catechesis and preaching, with the help of the works of theologians and spiritual authors. Thus from generation to generation, under the aegis and vigilance of the pastors [i.e. the Popes and the Holy Office of the Inquisition, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, etc.], the "deposit" of Christian moral teaching has been handed on, a deposit composed of a characteristic body of rules, commandments, and virtues proceeding from faith in Christ and animated by charity. Alongside the Creed and the Our Father, the basis for this catechesis has traditionally been the Decalogue which sets out the principles of moral life valid for all men.
Nevertheless, none of this made it into “the circle,” and so, as Rubinstein made clear to us in his First Things article, the Nazis owed “precisely nothing” to “the Catholic Church and its teachings” for their murderous campaign against the Jews.

Or, maybe Hitler and his henchmen owed precisely, “the ability to posit the Big Lie and get away with it”, to official Roman Catholic teaching.
All this was inspired by the principle--which is quite true within itself--that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.

—Adolf Hitler , Mein Kampf, vol. I, ch. X
So, to review, then, repeat after me: the Roman Catholic Church and Roman Catholic Teaching contributed “precisely nothing” to the Holocaust of the Jews.

14 comments:

john said...

This whole thing is disgusting, HOW DARE does the Romanist claim that the Roman Church is the Church Christ founded!! btw John I was posting at CA on your thread under the nic "kotek" and I guess I was getting them hot under the collar so they banned me.

John Bugay said...

Hi john, I figured that was you over there ("kotek"). (It was the penal substitutionary comment).

I didn't get a chance to read much of that thread; today I've been working on some plumbing for our laundry tub, but earlier this week my son was in a car accident ... lots of stuff like that going on.

I've been intending to get back there and spend some time in some discussions; I am not at all surprised by some of the hostility that's coming my way.

I appreciate you chiming in over there.

john said...

John I think that is another "weak point" of Romanism, as as one brings up "Penal Substitution" to a Romanist who knows what it is they see red, because I suspect that they know that it will undermine most if not all of Romanist Soteriology, IE Purgatory, Indulgences, the Mass as "propitiatory sacrifice" would all go out the window and destroyed.

James Swan said...

I spent about 20 minutes yesterday on that CA forum thread, but I will not have the time to continue being accused of logical fallicies, etc.

That "Kotek" was banned is not a shocker. I had a few comments deleted as well, but as far as I know, I wasn't banned.

John Bugay said...

john, the Roman church has so many different "weak-points".

I haven't been able to keep up with that thread. (I'd rather be writing posts here =D).

Actually, I haven't even been able to read the whole thing. I'm not sure that my comments there were all that helpful to anyone. They literally went all over the place.

Obi-Nate-Kenobi said...

john, I was the one talking with you about penal substitution over on CAF, when you were banned by the moderater. I wanted to personally apologize for how you were treated. I feel somehow responsible, since I was the primary one that was speaking with you on the matter. I asked the moderator why you were banned, and was tersely given a copy of the forum rules, none of which you violated. You had every right to voice your opinion on soteriology without being mocked, and I was enjoying our dialogue. I will not be posting on CAF anymore. How they treat protestants is ridiculous, and they are not thought highly of by any priests or theologians I speak with. God Bless you, and simply shake the dust off your feet when you are treated in such a manner. Nathan

John Bugay said...

Nathan, Welcome to Beggars All, and thank you for your comment here.

john said...

Obi-Nate, Nathan, about 3 months before I left the Catholic Church I showed the Catholic Answers Website and CA Forums both the DRE (Director of Religious Ed) and the person in charge of "Adult Faith Formation" who instructs "Converts" to the Catholic Church. Two weeks later they BOTH told that:

1. The "Apologetics", Theological thinking and versions of Church History at the CA site were so out of touch with current Catholic Scholarship in Theology and History it wasn't funny. Anyone who posts at CA from the "Pro-Apologists"to the "Amateur Apologists who post there and have a Blog would literally be laughed out of any Catholic Uni or College classes on Theology and Church History.

2. That Catholic Answers and its forums will harm the Catholic Church by chasing away potential converts and actually drive current Catholics out of the Church.

scotju said...

Mr Bugay, I'd be very careful about getting chummy with Obi. I saw on his blogger profile that he had a website, so I took a gander at it. His site is loaded with absolutely filthy langauge. So beware!

John Bugay said...

scotju: I'd be very careful about getting chummy with Obi. I saw on his blogger profile that he had a website, so I took a gander at it. His site is loaded with absolutely filthy langauge. So beware!

I didn't look at his blog. He was very polite and straightforward in private conversations through the CA PM system.

the real reason the CA site is out of touch with mainsteam Catholic scolarship is that the mainstream of Catholic scolarship is flaming liberal.

Why do you suppose the Magisterium is permitting "mainstream Catholic scholarship" to become as you say "flaming liberal"? Don't you suppose that they have some control?

One thing you can say about "mainstream Catholic scholarship" is that it is "mainstream".

john said...

scotju: What you call "liberal" is in reality "mainstream" Catholicism.C'mon scot the people many "traditional" Catholics call "liberal" are the ones who are getting appointed to Pontifical Commissions, these Theologians, Historians, Biblical Scholars, Scientists, etc are essentially hand-picked by either the Pope himself or by people directly and immediately accountable to him. And what are these Scholars saying?

1. Rome did not have a "monarchial Bishop" until the the late 2cnd Century (about 170-190 AD).

2. The Papacy was a long gradual development and did not exist until the the late 6th century, and even then it wasn't until the 800s that the Papacy as we know it came into existence because of Popes who used a combination of Forged Documents and political statecraft to essentially co-opt power and authority and place themselves in the pinacle of Papal Supremacy and Jurisdiction.

Until roughly the 800s the Papacy was an arm and tool of the Roman Emperors, a part of the Machinery of State of the Empire, essentially it was the Emperors who told the Bishops of Rome what to do, holders of the office of Bishop of Rome had to be confirmed by the Roman Emperor in Byzantium.

3.The Dogma of Purgatory was the result of the mixing of neo-Platonism, Graeco-Roman Mythology, and Moralism with a dash of Gnosticism thrown in.

4. Marian Dogmas of the Assumption and Perpetual Virginity of Mary came from heretical Christian sources and Gnosticism. Those ideas were actually condemned by two Bishops of Rome as heretical.

No my friend "traditional Catholics" who actually believe everything taught by the Church as "dogma" are in the vast minority.

Obi-Nate-Kenobi said...

I apologize about the blog. I only signed up to post an apology to john, and was not aware it was public viewing. It was meant to be a private diary of sorts, that chronicles my issues getting a kickboxing gym started. I was fresh out of the Army Infantry and back from deployment, and the language is not appropriate. This is not an excuse, it is just the reality of what I was feeling at the time. I am truly sorry for any offense that was caused, and I will try to figure out how to have it removed.

john, I agree with the statements that CAF are out of touch with much of Catholic scholarship/theology. There are more liberal scholars such as Joseph Fitzmyer, etc, however there is also a decidedly more conservative lean with Dr. Hahn, Dr. Brant Pitre, Dr. Sungenis, Dr. John Bergsma, etc. Neither of these schools of thought seem to have much positive to say about the CAF-style apologetics. Church history is more complicated than triumphalistic quote-mining, soteriology is more nuanced than proof-texting from Hebrews, and your arguments deserved far more respect than arrogant shotgun-blasts of links from Phil Vaz websites.

I don't believe there is ever an excuse to sacrifice charity for the sake of a "clever argument," and to be perfectly frank I was angry at the way you were treated. You were the fourth protestant I had been speaking with in the past week that was banned, entire threads being deleted in the process.

I wish everyone here the best. I had the pleasure of attending a recent debate in Santa Fe between Dr. James White and Dr. Sungenis as well as eat lunch with the both of them. I was truly impressed with the level of respect, cordiality, and obvious love of God on both sides, between men who strongly disagreed with each other. CAF could stand to take notes.

God Bless, Nathan Wagar

Constantine said...

There my friends, is an example of true confession!

TheDen said...

"I don't believe there is ever an excuse to sacrifice charity for the sake of a "clever argument," and to be perfectly frank I was angry at the way you were treated. You were the fourth protestant I had been speaking with in the past week that was banned, entire threads being deleted in the process."

John,

I second Nathan's thought. You and I have our opinions and I STRONGLY disagree with you but I have felt that you have always treated me with respect here on Beggars All.

Going on CAF, I'm having a better understanding as to why you don't classify me with other Catholic Apologists.

To me, it doesn't make sense if our argument doesn't draw us closer to Christ and that goes for both sides.

Peace,

Dennis